TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders landed in Los Angeles Sunday afternoon, but not before getting in one last practice — and a nice sendoff — at Starfire.
The Emerald City Supporters made an appearance at training Sunday, forming an honor guard of sorts to welcome the team as they made their way from the locker rooms to the training pitch. ECS then followed the team into training, waving flags and singing their trademark songs as the team practiced.
There are generally a smattering of fans taking in a Sounders training sessions — practices are open to the public — but the larger representation in advance of the team leaving for LA was appreciated by the team.
“It’s great, they’re here to support the team, the players,” coach Brian Schmetzer said. “It’s just part of the relationship between the fans and players [that’s] what this club is all about.”
Part of that relationship is the prospect of being able to host MLS Cup at home, in front of the fans, though the Sounders would Toronto FC to upset Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference final. Still, Schmetzer has allowed the thought to cross his mind.
“It’s a really big motivator,” Schmetzer said. “We have to do our business first, but if Toronto somehow [wins]. that’d be great.”
Helping the Sounders’ chances is the fact that they should have a full squad available to choose from for the game, save Will Bruin who is out for the year. Schmetzer said the entire team traveled for the game.
“We are are back to full health,” Schmetzer said. The only player working through an injury of any sort is Roman Torres, who had to leave the game against Real Salt Lake early with a hamstring strain. Torres did train on Sunday, and Schmetzer did not rule out starting the Panamanian centerback. “Who said anything about changing [the lineup]?” Schmetzer asked somewhat rhetorically. “We’ll talk about that if anything needs to [change].” Torres is listed as questionable with his hamstring strain on the injury report. LAFC have no significant injury issues for the game.
As it pertains to dealing with LAFC specifically, much has been made about stopping Carlos Vela and their lethal attack, but attacking their defense is something the team will be focused on as well.
“I think we need to play similar to how we play at home and try to come out on the front foot.” midfielder Jordan Morris said. “We know how dangerous of a team they are, they have some amazing attacking weapons. We’ve obviously got to shut that down but then create our own chances and try to score some goals.”
Victor Rodriguez continues to train in full, having seemingly recovered fully from his injury issues over the summer. The Spanish midfielder has played significant miutes in each of the last two playoff games, so Schmetzer will have a decision to make as to whether he will start him in this pivotal game.
“It’s challenging at time because guys all want to play,” Schmetzer said. “This year I called him my most effective player. If he’s on his game, he can do really good things for us. That’s one of those questions that we have to grapple with to see if he starts.”
The Sounders chartered a flight down to Los Angeles instead of flying commercial. ... The US U-17 national team, which features three players with Sounders ties, suffered a humbling 4-1 defeat at the U17 World Cup to Senegal. ... All three players affiliated with the Sounders — Alfonso Ocampo Chavez, Danny Leyva and Ethan Dobbelaere — all saw time in the game, with Leyva starting and playing the full game.